Children’s Classics Gone Wonderfully Wrong

Childrens Books Gone Wrong

I’ve always been a fan of children’s literature, especially after teaching fourth graders for two years. Kids books take me back to my own childhood when my parents would delight my siblings and I with some Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss.

In the years since my youth, I’ve also (obviously) gained a penchant for the inappropriate. So, when my girl TL clued me into a tumblr called “dirty library” yesterday, I soon found myself slumped over my Mac crying from the absurd titles and faux reviews of the children’s titles gone wrong… or what I’d prefer to regard as oh so right.

My current favorite among the many titles is “Alexander and the Total Fucking Bullshit Hungover Day.” As a kid we all experienced those dreaded Alexander-like days, although I think we adults can all relate to this version of our boy Alex as well.

After having read through the list, I’m now left with the hope that someone soon takes the initiative to pen these bogus versions of our favorite children’s classics. Perhaps this is a new potential career path I should consider…

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Move Over Taylor Swift

Guitar

If T-Swizzle can play the guitar, then anyone can, right? Learning the guitar has been secretly sitting on my bucket list for some time now, so I recently decided to take the plunge and bought an acoustic guitar. Now mind you that I haven’t played a musical instrument since my middle school days of playing the oboe, which did as little for my social status as it did for my parents’ discretionary income given the countless $8 reeds that I destroyed – sorry again, mom and dad.

In addition to bringing back some unpleasant memories of my overweight younger years, taking up the guitar has helped me recall how learning a new instrument represents the perfect combination of fun and frustration. After a few short weeks, though, I can easily say that the “fun” has totally trumped the occasional moments of frustration. It’s awesome to just get lost in playing and not give a single thought to the real world for a while.

Along with self-teaching out of one of those ridiculously juvenile (but admittedly appropriate) beginner books – we all remember those, right? – to add more fun to the process I’ve begun taking lessons at a local guitar store in my neighborhood.  

Forgive me for the unkosher yet fitting reference, but my teacher is the tits. Just a few minutes into my first lesson, I not only had a good feel for Jay’s exceptional guitar playing, but the way in which he’s able to put himself in his students’ shoes and teach to their individual level as well.

One of the best parts of our lessons is the humor, exemplified by him cupping his hands around his mouth and mocking the roar of an arena crowd after I cleanly played “Ode to Joy”. He also rips on the Taylor Swifts of the world a fair bit, which is cool… until he brings Bieber into the discussion.

For homework this past week, he asked me to devise a list of five songs I’d like to   ultimately learn to play down the road. I mentally tossed around a ton of tunes over the past few weeks and came up with 10 songs (narrowing it down to five was entirely too difficult) that I feel are pretty representative of my musical tastes and who – without the risk of sounding overly precocious – I’d like to consider as influences. I appreciate the fact that he’s already having me learn the chords to a couple of them, too.

I thought I’d share my list here along with links to each considering a few aren’t generally well known. Oh, and I’d also like to thank my parents for having legit tastes in music, as I fondly remember them playing a number of these growing up.

Overheard on the Bus…

Me Bus NYC

I’ve become a big fan of taking the bus whenever possible on my trips up and down the East Coast. I know the general perception of traveling by bus isn’t a positive one, but Megabus and the Greyhound Express have treated me well since moving out here.

With one of my favorite past times being people watching, an added bonus is that there’s no shortage of this on the bus. We hadn’t even left the station on my trip up to NYC today when I heard the following conversation going down with the girl sitting behind me…

– “You don’t love me anymore?”
– “Whyyyyy?”
– “Don’t break up with me.”
– “Mike, don’t do this to me!”
– “I can’t do it without you!”
– “You’re killing me.”
– “Okay, we’ll talk about all of this later.”

I can only imagine Mike’s responses on the other end of the line during a convo that included entirely too many moans and uncontrollable sobs for it only lasting a hot second. Furthermore, I’m sure the last thing in this world Mike now wants to do is “talk about all of this later.” I’ll admit I was hoping round two would take place at some point during our six-hour bus ride, but I’m sad to say it didn’t.

Oh, and I definitely recorded the conversation at the prompting of a friend I was talking to over text. And yeah, I know I’m a terrible person…

Seth MacFarlane, I’ve Got Your Back

Watching major awards shows and sporting events allows me to completely nerd out. It’s on such nights that I can be found on my couch watching while live tweeting like I’m in some kind of catatonic trance – taking a quick sip of my beer or pausing to banter with friends being the only acceptable distractions.

Sunday’s Oscars was no different. I’m generally a big fan of the event because I’ve always appreciated the caliber of the nominees. My one resounding complaint, however, is how altogether stuffy they tend to be every year.

This year, insert host Seth MacFarlane into the mix. Yes, I know he’s widely perceived as a douche, but I’m a big fan of the guy and am impressed by how insanely creative and successful he’s been over the course of his career (I mean, need I say more than Family Guy?).

And while MacFarlane was admittedly a bit more crass than the typical Oscars host (e.g., Lincoln joke), he had some brass and remained true to his comedic persona, making the event far less stuffy than in the past. Unlike most years, I actually looked forward to the camera panning back to him for a monologue… or dialogue with William Shatner.

Despite what many have said about the guy, who was massacred on Twitter for his performance (he’s since said he’ll never host again), I was thoroughly entertained throughout this year’s show. I know my sense of humor can be a little more “bro” than some, but if the Oscars has any hopes of connecting more with the younger generation – a legitimate concern – the show should feature a host who’s actually relevant and relatable to us (i.e. our parents, grandparents and today’s young adults).

Sure, MacFarlane wasn’t a Billy Crystal crowd-pleaser type, but the show itself still lived up to its reputation as the gold standard of Hollywood awards shows and garnered its best ratings in three years, reeling in younger viewers. So recruit some younger celebrities like him to host, or at least someone like Steve Martin who viewers of all ages find to be timeless and funny as hell.

Really all I ask for is relevancy and an end to of the inane stuffiness that had so come to define the Oscars until recent years. Let’s have some more of this…

ABC News did a great job summing up MacFarlane’s best and worst moments as this year’s host…

And “Best Acceptance Speech” Goes to…

Kelly Clarkson. If you didn’t catch her acceptance speech at the Grammys on Sunday, it’s worth the quick watch. I’ve heard a few people refer to the speech as drunken or obnoxious, but I personally find it (and her) genuine and endearing.

I’m already looking forward to that Miguel collaboration.

And if you missed her tribute to Patti Page and Carole King, it’s also a must-watch. Check it out here.

Say what you will about her and that speech, as she proved on Sunday (and at President Obama’s Inauguration), her voice is one of the most pure, powerful and arresting in the industry today.She blew Carrie Underwood and her Hunger Games dress out of the water. I’m sure Patti and Carole would have been proud.

Excusez-moi?


One of the definite perks of working for a university is the opportunity to take free classes. After being talked out of taking Arabic by my mother (who I applaud for her failed attempt to suppress her laughter), I decided to sign up for a weekly Intermediate French course that began this week.

The French classes I took as an undergrad were among my favorite courses. I also happened to do quite well in them, so I was confident enough walking into Tuesday’s first session. You may have a sense of where this is going…

Our professor, Hela (pronounced “hella” – awesome, I know), asked each of us to state in either English or French why we were taking the course. I was mentally preparing my response in what I deemed to be mostly unbroken French when one of the middle-aged gentlemen among us rattled off his answer in nearly perfect conversational French. I mean, damn; was I ever glad I didn’t volunteer to go first. His spiel was basically like sitting there listening to this and made me feel like this afterwards.

I suppose that’s the outcome of him living and working in Belgium for 12 years (at least I understood that much!). This made clear how very subjective the term intermediate is.

And since I possess no facial filter whatsoever, the professor quickly picked up on my thought process (I’m sure a baboon could have just as easily done the same) and fortunately without calling me out explained to the class that we were welcome to use English in the course’s initial weeks. Merci professeur.

I say this in the least supercilious way possible, but I’m not used to being one of the least advanced learners in the classroom. Thank God I’m motivated, resourceful and that I have no sense of shame when it comes to public embarrassment because she’s already assured us that we’ll have plenty of practice at conversation in the coming months. I’m actually pretty stoked about that, though, and have ultimately resolved to think of the entire experience as a total positive. If nothing else, it’s free, right?

You can bet this won’t be the last you hear about this class.